Review: Sobretablas*, Seville, Spain: Modern Spanish Restaurant
Sobretablas: Spain’s New Best Restaurant
Sobretablas, 6 dishes, 1 regional red wine, 2 aperitifs, mineral water: €120.60 excluding service (US$130, £100). Sobretablas, Calle Colombia 7, 41013 Sevilla, Spain. Tel: +34 955 54 64 51 www.sobretablasrestaurante.es @sobretablasrestaurante
Written by EatGoSee
Excellent regional & local food
The talk of the Seville & Spain’s food scene
Beautifully restored 1920s Spanish architecture
Engaging service & sommelier
Strong local wine menu
Uninspiring dessert menu
Some divisive ingredient pairings
Sobretablas: The Experience
The Story Behind Sobretablas
Sobretablas vs Gaa
Step Forward Mr EatGoSee Sr.
Mrs EatGoSee is back in Dubai and did not join me for this latest sojourn to the Algarve and Andalucía. She is sorely missed (especially at cocktail hour) but in her place is taken by none other than Mr EatGoSee Sr, my partner-in-dine for this trip and visit to Sobretablas.
Sobretablas’s Restaurant and Decor
The grand 1929 property lies a mere 15-minute ride south of Seville’s cathedral in Seville’s El Porvenir neighbourhood. The property was purpose-built for the 1929 Iberico-American Exposition. I relaxed reassured from the moment I walked through the door that stifling trappings of formality are abandoned. This dinner with EatGoSee Sr is relaxed slumped in the sort of cosy chair that wants you to drink wine and stay here a while. Oh, and so we shall.
The dining floor is glorious with high ceilings affording a bright canvas for both private and restaurant dining. The main restaurant floor is contemporary with a luminous garden-like space replete with backlit, oversized potted plants. The shadows amplify a space fit for 35 covers. These pleasant winter months in Seville complement the cosy vibe here but the retractable roof will flood sunlight during the warmer summers months.
A separate semi-concealed dining space sits adjacent to a bar which could make for a private dining room. I heartily recommend the wider garden space for the atmosphere.
The service is hospitable and engaging throughout the evening. Our waitress is friendly and engaging. Sure, there was a moment when we were given Spanish language menus when – despite my best efforts – English language menus are needed. Who cares, we are in Spain and Spanish menus will happen. We also talk to the sommelier (more on him below) who takes our orders for most of the evening. The best moment of the night comes when we meet Camilla before leaving. She is warm, smiling broadly and glad to meet me and EatGoSee Sr. We congratulate her on her award-winning successes and the launch of a new restaurant.
Sobretablas’s Food Menu
Camilla offers a precise 23 items on our menu. I appreciate a short menu; it tells me the kitchen has a clear vision of what they want to do. The seasonal menu means it is updated frequently.
The menu is divided into five appetisers (€4-5), five starters (€12-14), four fish options (€18-19), six meat options (€18-23) and four desserts (€6). The appetisers are very small plates whereas the starters resemble tapas-style dishes.
Camilla serves seasonal Andalucían dishes modernised and reinterpreted. Camilla is a local serving local food to local people bringing the training and imagination that comes with putting in the hours at some of Spain’s best restaurants. Visible gestures towards local choices are evident with oxtail croquettes (€4), duck cooked in orange sauce and parsnip (€19) and montadito de pringa (€5), a typically Andalusían sandwich harnessing lesser-known pork cuts. This level of cooking at these prices underscores why Sobretablas rightly earned its bib gourmand.
The menu is flexible enough to accommodate a tasting menu-style dining where you tour through each course (as we did) or stay in the appetisers and starters for a tapas-style dining experience. One again, the affordable pricing means you can eat well for relatively little especially at this level of cooking.
Sobretablas’ Food & Wine Highlights
BR> Sobretablas indeed provided my best meal to date in 2020. Sobretablas is refined dining: it dances along that difficult line of managing a relaxed dining experience informed by the structure and sensibility of fine dining. Camilla’s menu is a joyous tour highlighting regional food executed with technical skill. Northern Spain is saturated with some of the world’s best restaurants (including those in which Camilla trained) but could Sobretablas – together with Aponiente – be the counterbalance to the heavyweight north?
Delicious traditional dishes such as the fried prawn with pork rinds is superb and excellent value at only €5. Two delicately fried spears of shrimp coated in petals of crisp, blistered pork rinds resembling pale corn flakes. The shrimp edge close to being raw amplifying the shrimp’s sweetness which sings through. This is very capable cooking.
Our Marques de Riscal 2015 Reserva accompanies the fried shrimp and bursts with Tempranillo and Graciano grapes without that lasting dryness (€29 a bottle). We enjoyed this so much that we drove back to Portugal with a few bottles in tow. I also believe our earlier aperitif Lumé, a Huelva-based local sparkling wine, would make an excellent companion to the fried shrimp. The Lumé is bright and gentle without the vicious fizz that plagues some Spanish cava. A cava this good is borderline theft at €4 a glass especially for anyone reading this in London or Dubai.
Robert Tetas, sommelier
Camila is joined her partner, Robert Tetas, whom she met at El Cellar de Can Roca***. Robert Tetas is Sobretablas sommelier from Girona in North Spain and disciple of Pitu Roca, the famous sommelier at El Cellar de Can Roca. Tetas offers a staggering 160+ wine options celebrating local Andalusían wine, Spanish wine and a range of sherries. Robert is an effortlessly charming and conversant host while we catch glimpses of Camilla through a small window above the bar.
The sweetbreads with parmentier and capers (€18) is a fist-sized portion of sweetbreads slow-cooked for six hours. The result is a suet dumpling textured sweetbread gutsy, hearty and fit for winter. Lamb sweetbreads is a popular Andalusían ingredient given a with a suave potato parmentier and rich sauce fortified with sherry. Sparse puddles of sharp, verdant caper sauce and crispy whole capers brighten the dish so it’s less heavy.
The Iberian suckling pork served with pear and crispy milk is the priciest dish on the menu at €23. The spiced pears create a sweet dish supporting a considerable slab of slow-cooked black pork. The pork is not crispy but instead, the delicious Iberian fat is rendered slowly to baste the entire dish. A thoroughly enjoyable dish but it may be divisive with its sweetness.
The mackerel in whiskey is another classic dish reimagined. Sevillanos typically eat a tapa of solomillo al whiskey (pork tenderloin in whiskey sauce). Sobretabas offers Mackerel fish with whiskey (€12) as a take on the Seville classic. The mackerel is a silvery picture of a rubble of fillet pieces collapsed over garlic confit, cubed potato and a scattering of micro herbs. It is a subtle dish surprising given mackerel’s signature oily taste. Mr EatGoSee Sr notes the mackerel lacks texture. I agree that some crunch or bite would amplify the dish: a crispy skin perhaps, toasted hazelnuts or crispy shallots. This dish will not be for everyone but it highlights both the kitchen’s imagination and ability.
Sobretablas, and dessert?
My sweet tooth needs little temptation but the option of Andalucían cheese (€6) with a quince purée was the winner. Robert paired our cheese board with an excellent blended sherry, the Juan Piñero Cream (€6 a glass). He leaves us the rest of the bottle. A small act of generosity that receives precisely zero resistance. Thank you, Robert.
Sobretablas should update their dessert menu
Sadly, the desserts menu presents the first twinges of disappointment for the night. I am wound up with excitement cantering through each course at Camilla’s hands. The dessert menu causes eyebrows to furrow. Is this it? Four options (including the excellent cheese) including three that, honestly, do not scream “pick me”. Forgive the obvious play on Spanish metaphors but I am a raging bull before a delicious dessert waved before me. My ever-increasing midriff is a testament.
The desserts are an area where the kitchen could lean in a little more. Camilla capable rejuvenates Andalucían food throughout the menu. The dessert menu does not obviously demonstrate the same deft touch. I wanted to see regional desserts dragged into 2020 such as Pastel Cordobés, Mantecadas de Estepa (a Sevillan sweet cake eaten around Christmas) or churros. Seville is spoiled for churrerías and a refreshed churros option felt like an opportunity lost.
Sobretablas: And Dessert?
Would Should Come To Sobretablas?
Sobretablas, Who Should Come?
People who enjoy contemporary food, particularly modern Spanish cuisine. Anyone curious to find out the big deal about Spain’s latest bright new chef. You should come if you are looking for a relaxed atmosphere to catch up for a special occasion or in a larger group of friends. Corporate entertainment will not always be suitable as it may be a tad too relaxed for some who prefer formality.